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Last Updated: Friday, 25 November 2005, 16:31 GMT
Dumitru faces tough challenge
Mohammed Allie
BBC Sport, South Africa

Ted Dumitru
Dumitru is known for his cerebral approach to coaching

Given his unparalleled success in South African club football, winning back-to-back league titles with Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs, it's surprising that it has taken so long for Ted Dumitru to be appointed coach of Bafana Bafana.

His long wait, which finally ended on Friday, may have something to do with his straight-talking approach which has often seen him at loggerheads with officialdom.

Short in stature and usually wearing a trademark peak cap, dark sunglasses and having his sleeves rolled up, Dumitru has never been short on confidence.

"Generally speaking one should not approach any competition without the aim of winning it. Now is not the time to make promises. It's the time to meet challenges," he said, when asked about South Africa's chances at the Cup of Nations in Egypt.

Never one to dilute his views, he was previously censured by Mamelodi Sundowns for criticizing former national coach Carlos Queiroz.

He did not go quietly from Chiefs either, as he slammed former employer Kaizer Motaung for employing German coach Ernst Middendorp.

But whatever his critics may think about his lack of diplomacy, there's no doubting his knowledge of football and his ability to produce the goods when it matters.

The Romanian-born Dumitru is regarded as one of the more astute students of the game on the African continent.

Former South Africa coach Stuart Baxter
Dumitru may have to cope with the problems faced by his predecessor

When the 69-year-old departed from Chiefs at the end of last season, after guiding the team to a second successive league title, he left to pursue his long-time passion.

It was to create a football research, development and high performance institution at the University of South Africa.

He also published a football coaching guide titled Maximal Training, which looks into the psyche of the football and the difference between the African and European game.

People that have worked with Dumitru, affectionately known as 'The Professor', because of his studious approach to the game, believe he's the right man for the job, if only in a temporary capacity.

"He knows the strengths and weaknesses of our football like few others do," said Farouk Khan, who served as Dumitru's assistant at Kaizer Chiefs.

"He also likes the players to express their own identity on the pitch. He's not much into tactics - he prefers to work on the technical aspects of the players and let the tactics emerge from that," Khan added.

Taking South Africa to the African Cup of Nations could compensate for his disappointment in 1982, when he was refused entry into Libya after guiding Zambia to the tournament.

But that will depend on if he is able to forge Bafana Bafana into a unit that can go all the way at the Cup of Nations.

That's a challenge that will test Dumitru to his very limits.


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